Deep breath . . . December 4, 2013

On Monday, I learned that my scans last week did not have good results. I’ve ended my participation in the first trial and will begin a new clinical trial on Monday, December 16. This one combines another study drug, one targeting the protein that affects the C125 cancer marker, together with the chemotherapy drug carboplatin, which I received in my first chemotherapy round. This trial has 21-day cycles, with only one infusion of the drugs and lab work on one other day, and with scans again after two cycles. Two treatments three-weeks apart over six weeks—that’s definitely doable.

Although I had an inkling that the scans might not be good, I wasn’t expecting how not-good they would be. The scan report indicated minor to significant to excessive progression in the size of the tumors, new spots in the abdomen, growth in density of the tumor in my neck. Ah, not good. My cancer marker has increased steadily since I stopped the last chemotherapy drug in late May, but now it’s up to 581. When I was diagnosed in February 2012, the marker was 585, and during treatment it dropped to the normal below-30 range. Ah, so not good.

The new study has been on the Sarah Cannon oncology team’s radar for awhile because it “looks promising” for my situation. The trial has just opened up, and the purpose is to see if this study drug combined with a traditional chemotherapy drug can treat patients with recurring ovarian cancer. The cycles are shorter (21 days), the scans are earlier (after 2 cycles), and so the assessment of effectiveness comes sooner (6 weeks after beginning the 1st cycle). All good.

I admit that the news Monday was overwhelming for me. After almost two years since diagnosis and regular and aggressive treatments, realizing that I was a little worse that I was when first diagnosed took my breath away. In fact, I needed to sit by myself for a long while downstairs at the SC center before I could leave. My heart was pounding, and my mind was a blank. I couldn’t call anyone because I didn’t know what to say.

Eventually, this question came to mind: Is God with me, or not? If you have a Brentwood Academy connection, you probably have heard our headmaster Curt Masters tell a story about an experience his father and another missionary had serving in Indonesia in the 1960s. Curt is a fabulous storyteller, and I won’t do justice to the story; however, on Monday I replayed this tale in my mind while I was in the lobby after hearing the news about the scans.

The two missionaries and a group of native men were traveling in the jungle between very hostile villages when suddenly an arrow flew right across their path and embedded itself in a tree. As Curt tells the story, the two missionaries were unsure what to do next; then from the back of their group a young warrior who was a new Christian pushed forward, pulled the arrow from the tree, broke it over his knee, asked, “Is God with us, or not?,” and marched ahead through the jungle. The missionaries looked at each other, said, “Yes,” and followed.

Is God with me or not? Is He with me even now when I am faced with not-very-good news? Is God with me or not? When I am faced with that question, my answer is clear: He is and always will be with me. My hope and my faith are not in scan results or in treatment plans or in clinical trials. My hope and faith are in Him, and I trust that He is preparing the way through this experience, as He has prepared the way through all of the experiences of my life. Why would I think that He would leave me alone in this new experience?

So many verses from Isaiah 40 are a comfort to me right now. Here are some:

“Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?

He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name.

Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel,

‘My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God’?

Do you not know? Have you not heard?

The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth,

He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:26-31)

My path after diagnosis may take me back to the place where I began physically, but I am not in that place mentally or emotionally or spiritually. I am confident that my oncology doctors and team are pursuing wise courses of treatment, and I continue to be amazed at their professionalism and compassion. I know that God is with me, and the twists and turns of this experience are still in His hands. I will take a deep, deep breath and trust Him; I will not grow weary, and I will not be faint. He is with me.


11 Responses to “Deep breath . . .”

  1. Fran Kirkpatrick Says:

    Hi Cindy,

    As always, thank you for sharing your journey so honestly. I always feel blessed with new perspective after reading one of your posts. I’ve been thinking about you a lot and praying that God will grant you peace in the midst of this setback. As they say, there are many battles in a war, so I’m glad to hear that you’ll be starting a new clinical trial soon. I hope you will take good care of yourself during the holidays and enjoy your time off from teaching with your family. God is definitely with you as are many friends! You are much loved:-) Merry Christmas!

    God Bless!

  2. lorriej Says:

    Sending you hugs and the very best wishes from Memphis. Not the news you wanted but your spirit and humor are so admirable. Cheering for you every step of the way!

  3. Rhoda Pam McCarty Says:

    Oh my, Cindy. I marvel at your foundation inChrist, our Savior. I cry for what you have to endure. We have been so caught up with life as it is right now that I haven’t kept in touch. But know that I love you and always have kept you in my prayers, close to my heart.

  4. Leah Hoskins Says:

    Cindy, you are prayed over to the God who will not leave you by the people who love you. Leah

  5. Tara Carney Says:

    I love you.

  6. Carolyn Dobbins Says:

    Dear Cindy,

    I am trying to take a deep breath right now but am finding it very difficult. The tears came easily as I processed your words‹deep breathing, not so.

    Your courage, your faith, your example to us all. . . Those are the reasons for my tears.

    Oh, but I can pray, and I do.

    You are, oh, so right. God is with you, and your army of prayer warriors are, too.

    We love you, Cindy.

    Carolyn Dobbins 6th Grade Literature Brentwood Academy 219 Granny White Pike Brentwood, TN 37027 615-373-4764 x 313

  7. Joy Brandon Says:

    Wow. That’s a profound question. And even though we were @ BA for 9 years I don’t remember that Story of Curt’s! Powerful!

    Thanks for prompting me with that question. It’s the perfect question for everyday, and especially days with major stuff.

    I pray your new trial has profound results for you!

    Praying, Joy. Sent from my iPhone


  8. Susan Shafer Says:

    He is indeed with you!

  9. Dawn Peach Says:

    You are amazing. I have no doubt your words are an inspiration to many. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  10. tammyrhayes Says:

    He is faithful and just to complete the work He began in you indeed- this is my intercession for you that all the faith in God that surrounds you through family, friends, and the cloud of witnesses that preceded you will sustain you in these type moments and will give you unimaginable peace and calm and the joy of unconditional love in its purest expression will permeate your soul. God is with you, indeed! What remarkable strength and perspective you have- I am blessed by it so when I read your words.

  11. Christy Stanga Says:

    Cindy – Your news made me catch my breath a bit, but your response made me smile. HE IS WITH YOU! In this season – the good news is that He came, the even better news? He never leaves us. Our love and prayers are with you.

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